Donald Trump and the theocratic extreme right


This 16 October 2017 video from the USA is called Trump: You Can Say Merry Christmas Again! It is about Trump’s speech at the Values Voter Summit.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Trump appeals to fundamentalists and fascists

17 October 2017

President Donald Trump’s appearance at the ultra-right Values Voter Summit on Friday was a further step in his effort to create a fascistic movement outside existing political structures, directed against both the Republican and Democratic establishments.

It was Trump’s third appearance at the annual Washington assembly of Christian fundamentalist extremists, hosted by Tony Perkins and his Family Research Council. In 2015 and 2016, Trump appeared as a candidate for the Republican nomination and then as the nominee. In 2017, he became the first sitting president to address the group, whose views are so extreme that even George W. Bush stayed away and sent surrogates.

Trump does not read the Bible (or any other book) and his three marriages and penchant for vulgar boasting of his sexual exploits would under other circumstances make him persona non grata to the censorious moralizers of the Family Research Council and its co-thinkers. He would be an incongruous, even ludicrous, figure at a convention of Christian fundamentalists if his purpose were not so reactionary and dangerous.

White House speechwriters gave him prepared remarks that flattered the ultra-right Christian audience and sought to mobilize them behind a thoroughly secular agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy, elimination of regulations on business, destruction of social benefits, and imperialist war.

Trump spat on the genuine traditions of freedom of religion—and from religion—that are bound up with the liberating example of the American Revolution, in favor of a completely bogus presentation of the Founding Fathers as religious zealots, moral prudes and national chauvinists.

“America is a nation of believers,” he declared, although a recent Pew survey found that atheists and the non-religious are the fastest growing section of the population, particularly among the younger generation.

The president added later, “This is America’s heritage, a country that never forgets that we are all—all, every one of us—made by the same God in Heaven.” Actually, the First Amendment to the US Constitution bars the establishment of any religion, making the government officially neutral on the question of the existence of a creator, let alone the specific creation myths postulated by the various strains of Christianity.

Trump paid tribute to “religious liberty,” which is interpreted by the fundamentalists not as freedom to worship as one chooses, but as freedom to impose one’s religious precepts on everyone else in the form of discrimination against gays, lesbians and others whose sexual orientation or family structure is deemed in violation of Biblical injunctions. Those in attendance at the gathering treat restrictions on such forms of discrimination as attacks on their religious faith.

The heart of Trump’s speech was to boast that his administration was turning back the clock on the social progress made since the 1950s—greater sexual freedom, equal rights for women, the erosion of bigotry based on race, ethnicity, language or sexual orientation. “The American Founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence—four times,” he said. “How times have changed. But you know what, now they’re changing back again. Just remember that.” The audience gave him a standing ovation.

Trump boasted of keeping his election campaign promises to the fundamentalist groups, mainly through the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to replace the arch-reactionary Justice Antonin Scalia, as well as executive orders undermining abortion rights and access to contraception for women.

He also praised himself for promoting an atmosphere of public religiosity through such trivialities as saying “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays.” He described such actions as “stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values,” although the “Judeo” part is a sham. Trump has close associations with anti-Semites like his former chief political counselor, Stephen Bannon, now returned to his position as executive chairman of Breitbart News.

Trump was silent about his own encouragement of the white supremacists who rioted in Charlottesville, Virginia two months ago, where they mobilized in defense of Confederate war monuments. After the neo-Nazis marched with torches chanting “Jews will not replace us,” and killed an anti-fascist protester, Trump declared that there were “many fine people” in the ranks of the racists.

On Saturday, Bannon followed Trump to the speaker’s podium at the Values Voter Summit, where his contribution to Christian “values” was a thinly veiled call for the removal—by any means necessary—of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He described McConnell as the Julius Caesar of Capitol Hill, and said the Senate Republicans were in turmoil because “They’re just looking to find out who is going to be [murderer] Brutus to your Julius Caesar.”

A public speaker who made such a comparison in relation to President Trump would be visited by the Secret Service and probably locked up. Evidently suggesting that the Senate majority leader should be done in is not taken quite so seriously. Nor did the good Christians at the Values Voter Summit object to the suggestion, which was hardly of the “turn the other cheek” persuasion.

Bannon also denounced another Republican senator, Bob Corker of Tennessee, for suggesting that Trump is unfit for office and could lead the country into World War III. “Bob Corker has trashed the commander in chief of our armed forces while we have young men and women in harm’s way, right?” Bannon declared, claiming that this was “the first time in the history of our republic” that a senator has “mocked and ridiculed a commander in chief when we have kids in the field.”

The former White House political adviser is apparently ignorant of the public attacks on Truman, Johnson, Nixon, George W. Bush and Obama, limiting this to modern history. These presidents were all criticized and denounced, deservedly so, while directing foreign military interventions.

Bannon suggested that any Republican senator who did not publicly condemn Corker’s comments could face a primary challenge. “Right now it’s a season of war against the GOP establishment,” he told the fundamentalist conference.

There is an apparent division of labor between Trump and his former chief political aide, who left the White House less than two months ago. Bannon is openly corralling racist, neo-fascist and Christian fundamentalist groups behind a program of extreme nationalism and militarism, threatening to run candidates against “mainstream” Republican right-wingers, even if that damages the party’s prospects for maintaining control of Congress in the 2018 elections.

While Bannon openly targets McConnell, Trump combines occasional vilification, usually by Twitter, with public flattery, as on Monday after a closed-door luncheon meeting, when the two appeared side-by-side on the steps of the White House.

MEET THE GOP CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE WHO SAID SHE WAS ABDUCTED BY ALIENS WHO REMINDED HER OF JESUS Seriously. [HuffPost]

Trump falsely claims Obama did not call families of dead soldiers while he was President: here.

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Anti-racist American footballer Kaepernick fights injustice


This video from the USA says about itself:

9 October 2017

It was US Army veteran Nate Boyer who suggested to Kaepernick to take a knee as a sign of respect. Kaepernick’s protest was no statement on the military but to call attention to police brutality in America where cops are getting paid leave for murdering unarmed Americans.

Edited by Matt Orfalea.

By Alan Gilman in the USA:

Kaepernick seeks arbitration over NFL blacklisting

16 October 2017

Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is filing a collusion grievance against National Football League (NFL) owners, according to a document obtained by ABC News.

The filing, which demands an arbitration hearing on the matter, says the NFL and its owners “have colluded to deprive Mr. Kaepernick of employment rights in retaliation for Mr. Kaepernick’s leadership and advocacy for equality and social justice and his bringing awareness to particular institutions still undermining racial equality in the United States.”

Kaepernick drew national attention last season when he knelt during the national anthem before games to protest social injustice, and in particular the large number of police killings of African-Americans. His protest quickly spread, as many other players throughout the league engaged in similar symbolic protests during the anthem. College and high school players also joined in these anthem protests.

The gifted athlete became the target of presidential invective last month, when President Trump told a campaign rally in Alabama that he wanted NFL owners to fire any “son of a bitch” who knelt or otherwise protested during the playing of the national anthem. Several owners have taken up Trump’s call, with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones threatening to bench any player who follow’s Kaepernick’s example.

Kaepernick began his career with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, and in his six seasons with the 49ers he led them to one Super Bowl appearance and to within one game of another. Last season, when he began his protests, he served as a backup while recovering from shoulder surgery. He regained his starting position by game six, and was the starting quarterback for all but one of the season’s remaining 10 games and finished with a 90.7 quarterback rating—higher than some of the league’s leading quarterbacks such as Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers and Joe Flacco, among others.

After last season, in part because of San Francisco’s poor record and chaotic coaching changes—four different coaches in four seasons—Kaepernick opted out of his contract, thereby making himself a free agent available to be signed by any team for this season.

During the ten months of his free agency, no team has offered Kaepernick a contract. The league’s owners have continued to assert that the refusal of any team to offer him a contract stemmed from his poor on-the-field performance and had nothing to do with his protests against police violence.

This claim, however, has been repeatedly belied by coaches and players throughout the league. In June, Seattle Seahawks’ coach Pete Carroll said, “Colin’s been a fantastic football player and he’s going to continue to be … He’s a starter in this league. And we have a starter. But he’s a starter in this league, and I can’t imagine that someone won’t give him a chance to play.”

Before the season began, Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins expressed the feelings of many players when he said to the Daily News, “I would love to see him push back, because I do think he’s been blackballed, and there’s plenty of quotes from owners or whoever saying they’re afraid of the backlash they would get.”

Many other players, including such prominent stars as Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Derrick Carr, and Aaron Rodgers have made similar statements, making it clear that the failure of any team to sign Kaepernick is unrelated to his football abilities.

The filing of the collusion claim comes at the end of the sixth week of the season. During this period, several of the league’s starters have been replaced by backups because of poor performance, while others have had to be replaced because of injuries, yet Kaepernick still has received no offers.

He has chosen to file his complaint outside of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), and has retained criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos who has represented a number of high-profile celebrities.

The NFL has very clear and strict rules outlawing teams from colluding against players. Article 17 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) prohibits teams from working together against players and states any victims of collusion are entitled to economic damages (likely the average salary quarterbacks were getting from teams this offseason), as well as additional compensation equal to double whatever those lost wages come to.

Collusion does not require all 32 teams working together, but evidence must establish that at least two individuals colluded against a player to validate a claim. In the 1980s, free-agent baseball players proved Major League Baseball owners were conspiring against them to keep salaries down. An arbitrator awarded the players $280 million in damages.

Kaepernick’s collusion claim comes as Green Bay’s all-pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers sustained a broken collarbone during Sunday’s game, likely ending his season. In August, Rodgers told ESPN Magazine, “I think he (Kaepernick) should be on a team right now. I think because of his protests, he’s not.”

COLIN KAEPERNICK FILES COLLUSION GRIEVANCE AGAINST NFL OWNERS “If the NFL … is to remain a meritocracy, then principled and peaceful protest — which the owners themselves made great theater imitating weeks ago — should not be punished and athletes should not be denied employment based on partisan political provocation by the Executive Branch of our government,” his lawyer said in a statement. And several NFL players continued the protest over the weekend. [HuffPost]

Dutch referendum against Big Brother secret police law


Dutch anti-spying on citizens poster

This poster is against the new Dutch law on secret services, saying it violates human rights.

Dutch NOS TV reports today that 407,582 people have signed to have a consultative referendum against a new law giving secret services ‘Big Brother’ powers to spy on the Internet activities of all citizens, including the great majority of people not suspected of any crime. The law also wants sharing of the results of that spying with foreign secret services, like the NSA and the CIA in the USA (where Donald Trump wants more spying and more torture by secret police); even data which the Dutch secret services have themselves not analyzed yet. Senior legal advisers of the Dutch government like the Raad van State are critical of the law. So are human rights organisations like Amnesty International.

This is a Dutch 1 October 2017 video, in which comedian Arjen Lubach criticizes the law. Amsterdam University student Marlou Gijzen first got the idea for the referendum.

For a consultative referendum in the Netherlands, 300,000 signatures are needed. If the referendum will go ahead, then Dutch media think it will be on the day of the local elections, 21 March 2018.

There is a good chance that the Dutch electorate will reject this anti-privacy law; if one bases oneself on the two national referenda in the Netherlands so far.

On 1 June 2005, there was a referendum on the proposed European Union constitution. The referendum had been proposed by politicians supporting that European Union constitution, expecting they would win. The VVD right-wing pro-Big Business party campaigned in that referendum with TV propaganda claiming ridiculously that if people would vote No then mass murder in Auschwitz concentration camp would start again. However, 61.5% of voters voted No; especially not so rich voters.

Technically, the Dutch government and the European Union respected the Dutch No vote, and also the French No vote, against the European constitution. However, they replaced it with the Lisbon treaty, with only cosmetic changes. About that treaty, the voters of the Netherlands and all European Union countries except Ireland, were not given the right to vote. So, still disrespect for the voters.

On 6 April 2016, there was again a referendum in the Netherlands. This time on the proposed treaty between the European Union and Ukraine. This time, over 400,000 signatures had been collected by a committee which said they were neither for nor against the treaty. Like in the 2005, practically the whole political and Big Business establishment campaigned for a Yes vote for the treaty. But, again, 61,1 of the people voted against.

The Dutch Mark Rutte government disrespected that vote while hypocritically claiming they did respect it.

If voters will vote No to the Big Brother law in March 2018, will politicians respect that then? Looking at how they disrespected the two earlier referendums, one cannot be over-optimistic. However, if people don’t vote or vote Yes to Big Brother, then civil liberties will 100% certainly be damaged.

Now, politicians, including politicians who used to like referendums when they still thought they would win them, have plans to abolish the law making consultative referendums possible.

Will there be a referendum against the plans to abolish referendums?

German footballers’ solidarity with American footballers against Trump, racism


This video from Germany says about itself:

Hertha Berlin players ‘take a knee’ in solidarity with NFL protests

15 October 2017

Hertha Berlin [soccer club] showed support for NFL players in the US by kneeling before their home game with Schalke. The club’s starting lineup linked arms and took a knee on the pitch, while coaching staff, officials and substitutes took a knee off it. NFL players have been demonstrating against discrimination in the US by kneeling, sitting or locking arms during the national anthem before games. On Twitter, Hertha said: ‘Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility! For a tolerant Berlin and an open-minded world, now and forevermore!’

St Louis, USA protests against police brutality


This video from Missouri in the USA says about itself:

12 October 2017

The REAL reason St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson doesn’t care about cops arresting protesters and press. Cenk Uygur breaks it down on The Young Turks.

“On Tuesday, September 19, Mayor Lyda Krewson postponed her three remaining townhalls across the city. This followed four days of protests met with aggressive police force after the acquittal of former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Officer Jason Stockley.

She wrote, “[Townhalls] are happening in the streets and in my inbox and on social media right now. We are listening.” Despite her assurances otherwise, many residents interpreted this as their mayor dodging venues meant to hold her accountable to their serious concerns and pain.

So, in this pivotal moment, if Mayor Krewson won’t listen to her constituents in townhalls, who is she listening to? Perhaps it’s her donors. After all, the protests financially impact many of them. For example, both St. Louis Union Station and its parent company Lodging Hospitality Management, which operates hotels and restaurants, made significant donations to Krewson during her campaign.

LHM’s leadership team spoke to the Post Dispatch about significant lost revenue from downtown concerts cancelled in response to the protests around the verdict. Bob O’Loughlin, Chairman and CEO of LHM, also told the Business Journal, “The most important thing is to mobilize the city, county and state to work to carry on with these events and provide safety for people going to them.” Here, it is worth also noting that O’Loughlin sits on the board of the St. Louis Police Foundation along with a handful of other Krewson donors”.

Read more here.

This video from Missouri in the USA today says about itself:

St. Louis Protests In Front of Ferguson Police Department

TYT Politics Reporter Jordan Chariton reports from St. Louis, Missouri.

British Conservative government damages fire safety


At a march demanding Justice for Grenfell a local resident holds a piece of the cladding which contributed to the deaths in North Kensington

This photo shows a march in London, England demanding Justice for Grenfell, where a local resident holds a piece of the cladding which contributed to the deaths in North Kensington.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 14 October 2017

ALMOST A THIRD OF FIRE SAFETY INSPECTORS HAVE BEEN CUT

ALMOST a third of fire safety inspectors have been cut by this Tory government, a new report revealed, leaving buildings which are potential fire traps unchecked, putting the general public’s lives in jeopardy.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), who compiled the figures from a series of Freedom of Information requests, says the staggering 28% drop in inspector numbers across the UK is a ‘risk to public safety’.

The union warns that the real figure could be much higher as some fire and rescue services do not know how many inspectors they employed in 2010. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, which covers England’s third biggest city, Leeds, was hardest hit, losing 70% of its inspectors. Fire services in Gloucestershire, Durham, Cumbria, Norfolk and Avon all lost more than half of their fire safety specialists.

Fire safety inspectors are responsible for ensuring that communal buildings and public spaces meet fire safety standards. An essential part of fire prevention, the inspectors have played an important role in the long term reduction of serious fires – a trend that is under threat if the cuts continue, the FBU has warned.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: ‘Fire safety specialists play an essential role in the fire service. They help to enforce fire safety regulations that save lives and prevent damage to property. Fire services need proper funding, more inspectors and greater support if they are to continue keeping people safe.

Grenfell Tower has underlined the importance of fire safety in buildings. The drastic cut in fire safety inspectors makes it much more difficult for those remaining to do their job effectively. The government needs to wake up to what endless budget cuts have done to the lifesaving fire service.’

The impact of the reduction could be worse than feared as 16 fire and rescue services could not provide data on the number of fire safety inspectors they employed in 2010. The union says this is proof that the government’s ‘laissez-faire’ approach to regulating fire services, leaving the responsibility to local authorities, has backfired.

HM Inspector of Fire Services in England and Wales, the organisation that had been recording these figures, was scrapped in 2000. Since then, data on inspector numbers has been patchy with some fire services unable to produce figures when asked. The FBU’s October parliamentary briefing paper entitled Fire and Rescue Service Matters states: ‘Cuts to the number of fire safety inspectors, who are responsible for vital statutory fire safety inspections and audits, are putting the public at risk.

‘These are the inspectors who audit hospitals, schools, offices, shops as well as other communal and public spaces to check the owners are complying with safety law. Under the Fire Safety Order 2005, or similar legislation in the devolved administrations, fire and rescue authorities have important duties to enforce fire safety law.

‘Yet the number of professional, specially-trained fire safety inspectors who carry out this irreplaceable work has been cut for the past two decades. Since 2010, the number of fire safety inspectors has fallen by 28%. This is greater than the drastic fall in staffing right across the fire and rescue service, which is approximately 20%.

‘Since 2013, the number of fire safety inspectors has fallen by 13%. Four fifths of fire and rescue services provided data, indicating that a significant minority are not even in a position to quantify their inspectors at present. The Grenfell Tower fire has underlined the importance of the work of fire safety inspectors.

‘The London Fire Brigade was able to provide detailed figures for our request – a decade ago the LFB had over 200 fire safety inspectors, but this has been reduced to just over 150 in 2017. There are currently 1,169 fire safety inspectors across the UK. The Westminster government does not routinely publish figures on the number of these inspectors.

‘The old HM inspector of fire services in England and Wales, scrapped at the turn of the century, reported these figures annually. In 1996-97, it estimated there were 1,724 fire safety inspectors in England and Wales. Today there are 1,041 indicating a 40% fall in the number of inspectors over the last twenty years.’

A Glasgow tower block with ‘Grenfell-style’ cladding is being checked by firefighters every four hours. Residents of Castlebank Drive in the Glasgow Harbour development also have two 24-hour fire wardens on the site. However, this is cold comfort to all those who live in these blocks who remain in fear for their lives.

Firefighters are so worried about the building found to have Grenfell-style cladding that they are checking on it at least three times a day and three times every night. Homeowners received letters telling them cladding in lift areas and the roof could be similar to that used in Grenfell Tower in London, where so many men, women and children burnt to death in the inferno in June.

Council contractors last week removed samples of cladding for testing. One resident of the flats said they have now been told the cladding in their property has been identified as ‘high risk’. They said: ‘The cladding in my block and one other has no fire resistance at all.

‘We now have two 24-hour fire wardens, four-hourly visits from the fire brigade and a huge amount of parking attendants ensuring that access is clear. I would’ve thought the emergency should have been immediately after Grenfell – not four months later.’

David McGown, of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said two properties had been identified by Glasgow City Council as raising concerns. He added: ‘As part of a package of reassurance measures, firefighters are conducting regular site visits at both these properties. Our community action teams are also offering residents free home fire safety visits.’

Aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding became notorious after the Grenfell fire on June 14. It was thought to have played a part in the rapid spread of the blaze. Last month, a senior Glasgow City Council official revealed that a survey done in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire identified combustible cladding on privately owned flats in the city.